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DATUK Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will step down as the women, family and community development minister on April 8 when her three year term as a senator ends.
She also announced yesterday that she would remain Wanita Barisan Nasional and Wanita Umno chief.
“I am announcing my resignation as a minister but I will, however, be leading Wanita Umno,” a composed Shahrizat told a press conference, held after a ministry event to celebrate children born through a sub-fertility programme
at Desa WaterPark here.
The hall was packed as participants in the event, parents and their young children, stayed on to listen to the announcement.
The three-term former Lembah Pantai member of parliament said she would be handing her letter of resignation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Najib, who spoke to reporters in Pekan, said Shahrizat had made the right decision. “She made the decision for the sake of the government and the party.”
Shahrizat, 59, who was clad in her ministry’sattire, said her decision to step down was made in the best interests of all parties. “I have been in politics for 31 years and want to do the right thing. This is the right thing to do and this is the right time. “I have enjoyed my stint as a minister as I got to do the best thing in my life, that is to serve my country and the people. It has been a very fulfilling ride.”
She said the decision was made of her own free will and she was not in any way pressured by any parties. “I have given much thought in arriving at this decision. At this point of time, this is the best thing to do.” Shahrizat was
first appointed as women and family development minister in 2001 and held the post until March 2008 when she lost in the general election.
She was then appointed a special adviser to the prime minister on women’s affairs and social development. In April 2009, she was reappointed the women, family and community development minister.
Flashing her signature smile at photographers, Shahrizat said that through her ministerial portfolio, she had worked with marginalised groups and the poor.
"I am glad to be able to bring changes, especially to the target group, namely women, families and the disabled.
"This has brought a huge amount of satisfaction and meaning to my life, which I will cherish forever," said the mother of three, who trained as a lawyer.
Shahrizat said she would use the remaining time until April 8 to carry out her responsibilities as a minister.
"There's less than a month to go before I bid goodbye to my cabinet position. I have many programmes to attend to till my last day."
She said her final goal as a minister, before stepping down, would be to ensure that the Social Workers Act became a reality.
Shahrizat had initiated the enactment of the act in April last year and she planned to table the draft in the current Parliament sitting, which starts today until April 12.
Asked whether she would be contesting the next general election, Shahrizat gave a philosophical answer: "We do not know what tomorrow brings."
On the National Feedlot Corporation issue, Shahrizat said she had nothing to do with it except that she was married to its chairman, Datuk Dr Mohamed Salleh Ismail.
"As far as conflict of interest is concerned, I want to make it clear that I have nothing to do with it. I am not only a leader; I am also a wife and a mother."
Seated beside her was National Population and Family Development Board chairman Tan Sri Napsiah Omar, who Shahrizat had replaced as Wanita Umno deputy head in the 2000 party elections. Additional reporting by M. Hamzah Jamaludin, Masami Mustaza and Akil Yunus